DETROIT - Doug Fister shook off a frustrating first inning and Victor Martinez hurt himself while hitting a tying home run.
The banged-up Detroit Tigers are teetering but still standing, and now they have a chance to even the AL championship series.
Fister delivered another strong start in a game Detroit needed and Miguel Cabrera homered and had a tiebreaking double to lead the Tigers past the Texas Rangers 5-2 Tuesday night in Game 3.
"In and out, moving the ball around, moving the ball both sides of the plate," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "I thought it was a pitching clinic."
Detroit dropped the first two games in Texas before turning to Fister, who won the decisive fifth game of the division series at Yankee Stadium last week. He was sharp again, allowing two runs and seven hits with no walks in 7 1-3 innings.
Martinez homered in the fourth to tie the score at 1-1, but trotted gingerly around the bases. He stayed in the game despite an injury to his ribcage and hit a fly to centre in the seventh, a sign that perhaps his swing wasn't too inhibited.
"The only way I'm not playing is if I wake up dead," he said.
Jose Valverde, after tossing a season-high two innings the day before, worked around a leadoff double in the ninth for his third playoff save. He got some help from Cabrera, who made a diving play at first base.
Game 4 is Wednesday afternoon. Matt Harrison starts for Texas against Rick Porcello — both went 14-9 this season.
"It's going to be a long series," Cabrera said. "Nobody (said) it's going to be easy. You've got to be patient."
Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre fouled a ball off his left knee in the fourth and hobbled the rest of the night. X-rays were negative and he has a bruise.
Cabrera's double in the fifth put the Tigers ahead 2-1 and he added a towering solo homer in the seventh.
Jhonny Peralta also went deep for the Tigers. Austin Jackson broke out of his post-season slump with three hits, including an RBI single.
Texas right-hander Colby Lewis, who entered 4-0 in five post-season starts, allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings. He struck out six and walked two.
"He throws strikes and every now and then he's going to give up some long balls. I thought it was a pretty good ballgame," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He kept us in the ballgame. It was Fister that did the job out there tonight."
Stung by Nelson Cruz's game-ending grand slam Monday, the Tigers returned home hoping to shake out of their offensive funk. They fell behind 1-0 when Fister allowed three consecutive singles to start the game, but the right-hander held the Rangers in check after that, even striking out Cruz for the third out of the seventh as the towel-waving crowd at Comerica Park roared its approval.
After leaving 22 runners on base in the first two games, the Tigers struggled again early on against Lewis. Detroit had two on with one out in the second, but Alex Avila and Ryan Raburn both struck out.
Lewis struck out five in the first three innings, but Martinez led off the fourth with a homer to right.
Martinez, who hit .330 this season despite groin, knee and back problems, laboured slowly around the bases after the ball cleared the wall. When he returned to the dugout, his head still down, he slammed his helmet down as he descended the steps toward the clubhouse.
Detroit was already playing without injured outfielders Delmon Young, Magglio Ordonez and Brennan Boesch, and it wasn't clear whether Martinez — the designated hitter — would be able to continue. But he was back in the fifth, standing near the on-deck circle with Cabrera at the plate.
With runners at first and third and two outs, Texas decided to pitch to Cabrera, and his line drive down the right-field line on an 0-2 count stayed fair for a double to drive in a run.
"I'm not going to take another runner and put him at second base. The winning run is already at third base," Washington said. "We tried to make a pitch. Colby didn't get it there. Cabrera caught it."
Martinez drew a walk, loading the bases for Don Kelly, who hit a check-swing grounder to third. Beltre fielded the ball, then paused and waited to tag Cabrera. When the Detroit baserunner froze in his tracks, Beltre finally backpedaled toward the bag for the force to end the inning.
Detroit added two runs in the sixth. Peralta led off with a homer, and Jackson's RBI single made it 4-1. It was an encouraging night for Jackson, who entered 3 for 25 in the post-season with 14 strikeouts.
Leyland said he had no plans to drop Jackson from the leadoff spot.
"You know what? This is us," the manager said. "We are what we are. We've been doing this for the whole year, and we're going to either win this thing or go down with what we got."
Cabrera's homer in the seventh, which stayed fair down the left-field line, was his second of the playoffs. It also came on an 0-2 pitch.
Detroit provided more than enough offence for Fister, who was terrific down the stretch after the Tigers acquired him in a trade with Seattle shortly before the July 31 deadline. He retired his final batter Tuesday on an unusual unassisted putout, fielding Endy Chavez's grounder and then hustling over to first because Cabrera was well off the bag, trying to position himself for a potential play on the ball.
Fister was lifted after that, and he tipped his cap to an appreciative crowd as he left the field.
"Using the defence was a key thing for me and just focusing in on hey, I'm not trying to blow it by these guys," Fister said. "I'm not trying to get strikeouts. I'm looking for contact and let's go deep in the game."
Fister's first nine pitches were strikes, but the Rangers poked three of them into the outfield for singles and took a 1-0 lead. Ian Kinsler led off with a single to left, then Elvis Andrus chopped an 0-2 pitch into right for a base hit.
Josh Hamilton fell behind 0-2 as well before hitting a soft line drive just past the outstretched arm of Peralta, the shortstop, for an RBI single.
Fister escaped without further damage thanks to a double-play grounder by Michael Young and a strikeout by Beltre.
"Just stick with the same game plan," Fister said. "They hit a few groundballs that made it through the holes, and good hitters do. They came out firing and Alex and I just stuck with the game plan and used our defence. Tremendous plays out there, and you know that's the name of the game."
NOTES: Valverde has converted all 52 of his save chances this year, including the post-season. ... Fister was nearly hit in the fourth when a piece of Mike Napoli's broken bat sailed toward the mound. The right-hander instinctively stuck out his glove, but the bat missed him. ... Hamilton lost control of his bat during a sixth-inning swing, and it sailed into the front row behind the Texas dugout. A male fan was shaken up after getting hit by the bat but appeared to be OK. ... Yorvit Torrealba started at catcher for Texas so Napoli could have a bit of a breather as the DH. Torrealba had three hits.